February 2010

Razor Blade Bag = Cutting Edge Fashion?

Hottopic On Hot Topic's website, the description of this purse reads: "This silver foil bag is shaped like a razor blade."

A razor blade?

Selling a "fashion item" that's a symbol for cutting is not only irresponsible, but also insensitive to the vast number of people that struggle with the urge to self-harm.

Katy Crittenden, 18, first spotted this bag at a Hot Topic in her hometown of Oakland, CA. "When I first saw the purse I laughed because I thought it was so ridiculous," she says. "After we left I realized how suggestive it was. It made me really angry, because as someone with a past cutting habit, I know how dangerous and addictive it can be."

Some facts: Teens and young adults are at the greatest risk for self-injury, with skin-cutting being the most common form. And a recent study reports that 46% of 9th and 10th graders have performed at least one act of self injury, including 14% who have cut or carved skin*. (Are you reading this, Hot Topic CEO?)

Dr. Esme Shaller, a clinical psychologist at the University of California at San Francisco who treats adolescent self-injurers, has this to say: "Cutting is not an edgy statement -- it is a serious behavior that people resort to when they are suffering. Things like this purse trivialize what hundreds of thousands of people are trying to overcome."

"I don't understand how a huge company would want to sell them," echoes Katy. "They either don't even realize the message they are sending or they don't care and want to profit off of it. I think it is seriously irresponsible, on a moral and on a business level."

Who would buy this? Well, the bag -- on sale for $11.98 -- has sold out.  Are you upset about this as we are? To make sure they don't restock, please go to the Hot Topic website and write to them.

*Klonsky, E.D. & Muehlenkamp, J.J. (2007). Self-injury: A research review for the practitioner. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 63, 1045-1056.

RED Hearts: A Dancing Flower for Winter


Pinkflower RED Hearts are guest posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage Girls in America Write On What Fires Up Their Lives Today.

RED Hearts post is by Saskia Boggs, 20, reporting from Kalamazoo, Michigan. She has found a winter pick-me-up as she waits for spring:

Before my birthday package arrived this month at school (bursts of surprise are always extra-welcome in Michigan in February) my mom told me that she’d included something from my favorite kitschy little store back home. Fully expecting a cute necklace or maybe a DIY book (as moms do), I was surprised to find a plastic, solar-powered dancing flower in the box.

Yes, my mom had sent me a Two's Company Bee Happy Dancing Flower, the perfect gift for the depths of winter. These cheerful and cute little trinkets catch onto even the weakest rays of light, which make the leaves wave up and down and the flower sway from side to side. The colors are bright -- pink flower, green leaves and stem, and a choice of either a blue or pink base -- all especially great with the gray ick outside.

Seeing my dancing flower waving at me from my window when I get back from the icy trek from classes to dorm consistently raises my spirits. And the best part is, I don't have to remember to water this flower. These sun-happy blooms never die. And at just under $8, they’re definitely going to become my inexpensive-yet-thoughtful go-to gift for friends this spring -- which has to be coming soon!

Red RED Hearts guest poster Saskia Boggs is an author of RED: Teenage Girls in America Write On What Fires Up Their Lives Today, which is now out in paperback.

Japanese Beauty Secret: Azuki Beans

AzukibeansWhen I was growing up, my mom used to make a tasty sweet treat with azuki beans. The beans are small and red, and when cooked for a long time with some sugar, the result is a delicious red bean sauce we ate with mochi or atop shaved ice. Yum!

But these little beans work double-time as a potent beauty secret that Japanese women have been using for centuries to keep their skin soft, smooth and blemish-free. When ground into a fine powder, these beans act as a gentle exfoliator that won't damage or over dry your skin. And luckily, it's simple to make:

What You Need:

-Azuki Beans
-Coffee Grinder

-Use the coffee grinder to grind the azuki beans into a fine powder. Put a few of teaspoons of the powder in a bowl, mixing in 1-2 teaspoons of water to make a paste.
-Wet your skin with warm water and gently rub the paste over your face or body. Rinse. To use as a mask, just make a thicker paste by using less water.
-Store the leftover azuki powder in an airtight container for later use!

All of this will cost you a mere few bucks. Let's hear it for beans, beans the magical fruit!

Download This Mystery: Cathy's Book

Cathysbook Electronic devices like the Kindle have made it possible to read books digitally -- which is cool -- and though I'm all for technological advancement, I still prefer ye olde paperback.

But, something's changed my mind. I recently downloaded a book onto my iPhone, and it's making me a believer in the power of digital reading. Called Cathy's Book, it's the personal journal/sketchbook of artsy high schooler Cathy Vickers.

When her boyfriend dumps her, Cathy goes into full-on Nancy Drew mode, trying to figure out what exactly went wrong in their relationship (yikes, haven't we all?). What she uncovers is played out in this iPhone app, where we're able to look at sketches she's drawn, watch animated videos, view websites, and listen to audio (you can "call" the phone numbers!). It's a multi-media smorgasbord of goodness.

Cathy's Book is actually the first of a trilogy, and was originally published in hardback (I own it). As good as the paper version was, its new incarnation is even better! It's completely interactive, which makes you feel like you're helping solving the mystery, too.

Watch the demo for the app below (and even if you don't have an iPhone, check out the books!):

Country Chic on the Cheap

Smock Here's what I have to say about the Vermont Country Store: Don't knock it. It all started as a mail order business in the 1940s (and I'm betting they still have a lot of the same products).

Look at all this cool stuff I found in the catalog, then get your own, uh, free subscription. It's kind of like looking through your grandma's attic, in a good way. Even better: the finds are all new.

1. Chambray Smock Apron ($22, pictured). Kind of like what your elementary school art teacher wore, but also pretty awesome.

2. Vermont-Made Natural Soaps ($13.50 for 3 bars). Triple-milled with an all-vegetable base, and six scents to choose from.

3. Cabled Snood Hat ($25). This retro shape is having a fashion renaissance -- tuck in your hair for instant style and warmth.

4. Bubble Umbrella ($20). Transparent for visibility, extra-long for rain protection!

5. Goo Goo Supremes ($17 for a box of 24). Mix caramel and marshmallows into a cluster, top with pecans and cover in milk chocolate. Et Voila: Heaven.

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